Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Game Day:
Romanesque-style chapel the centerpiece of St. Joseph's College campus

In this third and final installment on my recent Game Day visit to St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Ind., I present images taken of the campus landscape in the hours preceding kick-off of the host school Pumas' 2013 football opener against Valparaiso University.

As mentioned in the first post on this shoot, my biggest disappointment was that the front facade of the storied Romanesque Revival-style chapel on the grounds was covered with scaffolding, and the nearby reflecting pond was not operating. The two would have presented some great photo opportunities, I feel. A third disappointment I take the blame for. I rarely lug around my tripod on these walk-around shoots, relying confidently on the vibration compensation technology of my Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di PZD lens to keep my hands steady for my three-image high-dynamic range (HDR) shots.

Before you jump to conclusions, the lens did its usual fine job again for me for my HDR outdoor shots in Rensselaer. It was when I went inside the chapel and tried to steady my hands any possible way I could that I wished I would grabbed the tripod from the car trunk and brought it along. I required a much slower shutter speed indoors, and although my backup hand-steadying efforts succeeded on a few shots, even the Tamron couldn't bail me out for the majority. One of the successes leads off this post. For this shot, I was seated with knees bent up on the aisle carpet, camera resting on the knees. I'm sure the knee rest played a role in keeping the three images sharp.

And between the visit to Rensselaer on Sept. 7 and my more recent one to Terre Haute last weekend (at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology -- those pictures are in the post-processing stage right now), I was reminded that HDR shooting gets extremely dicey outdoors when the camera is situated less than 90 degrees between the sun and the subject. In most instances, even HDR can't reconcile color quality -- especially chromatic aberation in the sky -- when you attempt to shoot directly into the sun or at angles less than 90 degrees. I've actually succeeded on rare occasions -- an intentional into-the-sun shot of a fountain on the campus of Hanover College two years ago comes to mind. On the other hand, when you do have the ideal angle away from the sun, HDR dismisses the need for a polarizing filter to enrich the blue in sky colors.

A full gallery of images from the campus landscape portion of my visit to St. Joseph's College, visit my site at SmugMug.

Above and next several below: These are interior shots of the chapel. The frame above is the only usable one from those I took standing up and unaided with any hand-holding support. For the others, I was either sitting on the floor (or sacristy step) and resting the camera on my knees, or, in the case of the detail shot of the fresco, lying flat on my back and resting the camera on my chest. 

Above: The reflecting pond, which on this day was not reflecting anything because it wasn't operational.  

Above: The front facade of the chapel, being worked on by restoration crews. Notice the people emerging from the door on the left. This was a campus visit tour guide for a prospective student and his/her parents, something I see quite often on these campuses during my visits. Renovation of the building, which was dedicated in 1910, is being conducted in five phases. 

Above: The view of the Evans Arts and Sciences Building from just outside the chapel door. You'll get two other views of this building further down. 

Above: The side of the chapel. 

Above and below: Views of the chapel's backside (left) and a slight portion of the adjacent Xavier-McHale Hall. 

Above: The walk from the front of the chapel to Xavier-McHall Hall (below) takes you through this interesting spectacle.  

Above and below: The Schwietermann Hall Welcome and Admissions Center has an interesting three-sided bowed shape. These are two of those sides. 

Above: The very simple-looking exterior of the campus radio station WPUM-FM (93.3). 

Above: A closer view of the four-level arts and sciences building, where the lion's share of academic classes are held.  

Above and below: The campus plaza, leading to the Halleck Student Center in the background.

Above and below: The indoor athletics facility, Richard F. Scharf Alumni Fieldhouse. It initially was named Alumni Fieldhouse in 1941, much like how the football stadium is called Alumni Stadium. In 1994, it was renamed in honor of the school's storied multisport athlete, coach and athletic director. Below is a wall hanging in the fieldhouse.

Above and next several below: I was surprised and impressed to see the St. Joseph's College baseball team working out at the baseball complex, whose field is named after native Hoosier and Major League Baseball great Gil Hodges, who spent most of his career with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers. Hodges was the only St. Joseph's College alumnus to make it to the Major League level of play in baseball.

Above: This image -- intentionally shot this way -- turned out terribly in high-dynamic range. This is an edited version (boosting midtones and shadows) of a single frame.

Above: Looking toward the baseball complex from the elevated plaza outside the Halleck Student Center.

Above and next two below: Different view of the Halleck Student Center exterior, my favorite being the one immediately below. 

Above: Interior shots of the student center. The halls of the main floor are decorated with bright, colorful school-related mural art, such as the one above. 

Above: From the student center plaza, one can look out over the mall where most of the school's residence hall and apartments are located. 

Above: Students walking along the sidewalk within the residential mall.  

Above: The front of Justin Hall at the far south end of the residential mall.

Above and below: Two views and treatments of images of the Rev. Charles Banet Core Education Center. The horizontal orientation above is a high-dynamic range rendering; the vertical below is a single-frame. 

Above: Yet another look at Evans Arts and Sciences Hall, this time from a different perspective. 

Above: Again, two perspectives and treatments of a modest plaza behind the arts and sciences building. Above, the single-frame shot; below, an HDR rendering.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Game Day atmosphere at St. Joe's

St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer has a pretty smart marching band, and by "smart," I mean that it's accomplished -- and fun. The student performers enjoy what they do as they ply their very good skills. It's why shots of the band comprise the majority of today's post, devoted to the school's football Game Day atmosphere.

The previous post here was dedicated to game action at the Sept. 7 season opening game at St. Joseph's College between the host Pumas and Valparaiso University, a game won by St. Joe's 34-31. Today's post is devoted primarily to the people who pumped atmosphere into the stadium environment -- the marching band, the cheerleaders, the fans and tailgaters. 

St. Joe's cheerleaders do a nice job of keeping home crowd energized as well, and it helps that the band gives the cheer promoters a healthy diet of peppy tunes and hypnotizing rhythms -- sometimes at a fever, thumping pitch ... which is why I led this post with a close up of the dummers' sticks preparing to strike another beat.

I loosely divided the pictures in this post by the band, the cheerleaders, team introductions, the fans and tailgating. There are one or two bonus shots tossed in for good measure.

The next post will feature my shots taken during a walk-around of the St. Joseph's campus prior to the game. 

Above and next eight below: The rhythm section of the marching band, which anchors the north end zone of Alumni Football Field. I'm not sure why the one percussionist put the bandana or neck scarf up around his face; it was very hot and humid. It didn't last there very long. 

Above: I don't know for sure, but I believe this youngster is related to Robb Thiel, director of college bands at St. Joseph's.


Above: Apparently it's tradition for students who welcome the St. Joe's football team onto the field to turn their backs on the visiting squad as it enters the stadium. That's what's going on here.
Above and next two below: The welcoming crew, including a masked Puma, at the south end of the stadium.

Above and next two below: Running back Braxton Shelton (7) leads the Pumas in a pep chant, rocking to-and-fro swagger at the south end zone before turning toward the field and yelling out a charge. 

Above and below: A look a two hair styles along the Pumas' sideline. 

Above and below: The only high-dynamic range (HDR) images in this post are of the home team's side of the stadium stands. I shot this hand-held with a Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di PZD VC lens attached to my Canon 30D. HDR is a melding in post-processing of two or more images taken of the same scene but at different exposures. I used three exposures for each of these, taken at 0 (normal), -3/4 and +3/4. 

Above and next three below: Shots of the St. Joseph's crowd in the stadium. 

Above and below: The Crusaders had a nice support base on their side of the field as well. Valparaiso is about an hour's drive from Rensselaer. 

Above: I included this picture to convey a curiosity (at least to me). St. Joseph's school colors are cardinal and purple, a combination I can't say I've ever seen or heard of before. But between the football team's jerseys and the marching band's attire in the background, this is how it plays out .

Above and the remainder below: The modest tailgating pack congregated in a meadow east of the stadium. St. Joseph's charges $5 to park on their grounds ... and $20 to set up in the tailgate area.